Counternarratives: Weaving Graphic Narratives in the Local, National, and the Global

deadline for submissions: 
March 7, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Sayanti Mondal, MLA, 2022
contact email: 

Counternarratives: Weaving Graphic Narratives in the Local, National, and the Global

Special Session, MLA, 2022.
Washington DC, 6-9th Jan, 2022.


“Art can be a powerful means of challenging the stereotypes of mutually antagonizing nations”—Aphrodite Desiree Navab

Bearing in mind the various resistance movements that have happened in the past and are happening today across the globe, it is imperative to acknowledge and amplify stories that challenge the persistent hegemonic narratives that pervade our daily lives. This special session seeks to account for multicultural and multimodal counternarratives through the medium of graphic narratives. The usage of the term ‘counternarrative’ is informed by Micheal Peters and Colin Lankshear’s understanding of narratives which “counter not merely (or even necessarily) the grand narratives, but also (or instead) the ‘official’ and ‘hegemonic’ narratives of everyday life: those legitimating stories propagated for specific political purposes to manipulate public consciousness by heralding a national set of common cultural ideals” (Peters and Lankshear, 2). Counternarratives not only challenge the dominant discourses, but they also deconstruct and reconstruct the memories associated with the grand narratives, and as well as invite alternate forms of storytelling practices. Keeping in mind the innovative storytelling practices, emphasis is given to visual modes of expression that are both unique and culturally shaped. Visual modes of articulation, especially in multicultural and/or multilingual graphic narratives, tend to become a universal language which not only connect a diverse set of audience, but also initiate dialogues regarding a range of social justice issues.

It is recognized that the idea of counter or resistance has multiple ways of expression, staging, and persistence across the globe. Considering the variable nature of resistance(s), some of the questions the panel aims to address include: How do visual representations in multicultural graphic narratives contest the essentialized notions of certain communities and nations? How do linguistic and visual rhetorical strategies work independently and/or in conjunction with each other to help counter the grand narratives? How do writers and artists from marginalized backgrounds employ the medium of the graphic narrative to articulate counternarratives?  How does the form and genre of graphic narratives serve as a platform and a tool to amplify marginal voices? What are some ways we can theorize the act(s) of readers engaging with graphic narratives as resistance? How are such texts directing readers towards social action?  What are the politics of representation for writing about and illustrating violence, resistance, resilience, persistence, intimacy, and solidarity in graphic narratives?

This special session is interested in exploring and examining multiple forms of counternarratives —individual, social, cultural, linguistic, economical, and ideological. Abstracts on topics in, although not limited to, the list below are welcome:

  • Diaspora and Identity-politics in Graphic narratives
  • Censorship of Graphic Narratives; Underground Comix, Self-Publishing, and Resistance
  • Subaltern agency and graphic narratives
  • Teaching Counter(graphic)narratives
  • Politics of Translation and adaptation in Graphic Narratives
  • Womxn in Graphic Novels/Womxn Writers and Artists, and emancipation
  • Countering dominant narratives of the childhood, girlhood, and motherhood
  • Reading Graphic Narratives as a Political Act of Resistance and collective responsibility
  • Countering grand narratives in Graphic Narratives on Disability and Illness
  • Sexuality and Pleasure as forms of countering hegemony in Graphic Narratives
  • Countering memories of/by/from the margins in Graphic Narratives
  • Manga, Manhwa, and Other Non-EuroAmerican Graphic Narrative Traditions
  • Eco-Critical Resistance in Graphic Narratives
  • Impact of New Media, Mixed media, and other Interactive storytelling practices in Graphic Narratives

Please send your abstracts (500 words) and a short bio (100 words) by March 7, 2021, 11:59 p.m. (Pacific Time) to Sayanti Mondal (